Archdiocese of Chicago


Catholic Chicago Blog

Hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago

About the Blogger

Joyce Duriga is editor of the Catholic New World. She has worked in communications and media for Catholic organizations for several years. Most recently, she served as assistant editor at Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Theology through the headlines

When people find out that I work for the Catholic Church often they ask me questions about the faith, especially if they are Catholic. Almost as often they have a misunderstanding of what the church teaches on certain things. When I ask where they are getting their information, they frequently reply, “I read it in (insert name of favorite local newspaper or magazine here),” or “I heard it on (insert name of popular cable news channel or local news broadcast here).”

While not surprising, this reality is cause for worry. In today’s fast-paced, media-consumed world, many Catholics are getting their theology from the headlines or sound bites.

There are many problems with this. Secular outlets often do not provide all of the information related to a story or issue because no journalist has all of the space or time to cover an issue as well as they would like. Deeply held theological beliefs such as ordination of men only to the priesthood or the church’s opposition to euthanasia cannot be summed up in a few sentences or a few minutes.

Also, journalists often have limited understandings of the church and simply get the information wrong. We Catholics have a rich vocabulary that can make for its own foreign language. There are words like saints and sacraments, novenas and scapulars, transubstantiation and kerygma, to name a few.

Of course, there can also be media bias that is antagonistic to organized religion, and the Catholic Church specifically, that can color a story and make it a dangerous place to get our theology.  

Media is by no means bad or to be avoided. It should, however, be consumed with caution.

Pope Benedict XVI touched on this matter in his latest encyclical “Charity in Truth.” “Given the media’s fundamental importance in engineering changes in attitude towards reality and the human person, we must reflect carefully on their influence, especially in regard to the ethical-cultural dimensions of globalization and the development of peoples in solidarity.”

God’s ways aren’t our ways so in many cases, any coverage of church teaching will be inadequate. However, Catholics can arm themselves against headline theology. For a start, Catholics should own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults so they can look up answers to their questions about what their church teaches. Subscribing to religious publications like the Catholic New World can also help. Most of all, the next time we find ourselves trusting what the secular media says the church teaches, we should stop and ask ourselves if they have the whole story.

Print RSS


Tuesday, October 06, 2009 8:24 AM

Ms. Duriga,

Great article, if you ever leave the journalism field you could be a diplomat. I'm sure you wanted to say that the secular media is bias and find no problems taking shots at Judeo / Chistian values.

I am a subscriber of TCNW and like your stewardship of the publication. Please keep up the good work and thanks again for a great article/blog.

Tom Schutz

Thomas S.

Monday, October 05, 2009 7:04 PM

I totally rely on the CNW. In fact, I suscribed all three of my children (ages 32, 32 and 28) who live in Atlanta, Akron and South Bend. I count on the CNW to be another reminder that they should be thinking of God AND to combat the things they hear coming from secular media, their friends and just anyone who doesn't really know anything about our faith. You, your staff and the featured authors do a much better job of explaining it than I do! Thanks.

Linda W.

Monday, October 05, 2009 6:37 PM

Ms. Duriga:

Will you be covering the more serious issue sof the day?
Subject: Call and submit your vote against the Chicago "Bubble Zone" Ordinance. The Mayor is taking a tally.

Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League asks everyone to call and say you are against the bubble zone, even if you're not from Chicago: 312-744-3300. It appears that they are taking a tally of those for or against, so your phone call can save lives!

About the Bubble Zone: Mayor Daley is proposing an 8-foot bubble zone around abortion mills in Chicago as a method to stop sidewalk counseling. For those of you who may not be aware, sidewalk counseling is the act of providing abortion alternatives and aftercare literature to women as they enter and exit abortion mills, as a final effort to save babies and women and to offer healing and help for those who will pain over their choice to have aborted. The bubble zone simply exists to stop this activity and other forms of peaceful protest by making it illegal to come within 8 feet of the clinic entrance.

Here in Dallas, an average of 475 babies are saved every year through the efforts of sidewalk counselors. Let's keep our right to do the same for the unborn babies of Chicago!
When is the Catholic Church ever going to stand for the millions of babies that have been killed. How can the Mayor of Chciago continue to have his reliigon assoicated with him when not many catholics are stnding up for the unborn!?!?!!?
This is a travesty.
Connie Helbling

Connie H.

Monday, October 05, 2009 1:15 PM

(Full disclosure: I'm the CNW movie reviewer!)
Great blog, Joyce! It's great to hear the vision behind our Catholic newspaper. Can you please put an "Add This" or "Share" button on all articles (and the blog) on the website? It's much easier to then shoot something to Twitter or Facebookt that way. Thanks & God bless!
Sr. Helena Burns, fsp
Daughters of St. Paul

Sr. Helena B.

Recent Posts

Monday, July 11, 2016 
World Youth Day in Chicago
By Juan Pablo Padilla

Tuesday, July 05, 2016 
Seeking and Living Justice as Neighbors
By Christopher Cox

Monday, June 20, 2016 
Theology of the Body Retreat
By Dawn Fitzpatrick